UW-Green Bay new campus composter diverts thousands of pounds of food waste from landfills

The composter is also helping the college keep its status as an Eco U, University.
Published: Nov. 26, 2020 at 6:14 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Many of us don’t think twice about what happens to our left over Thanksgiving meals or table scraps; but where its campus food waste is going, is at the top of student’s minds at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay.

Students are working to keep hundreds of pounds of food waste out of the landfill with the help of the new campus composter.

“We’ve put about 15,000 pounds of food waste into it already, considering, that’s a lot. We’re averaging about 400 pounds of food waste per day that’s going in there,” said Grant Winslow, associate director of operations for the University Union.

It’s been in use since October and the transition from meal to compost starts in the campus kitchen.

“We get waste from the food service on campus, they put them in these five gallon buckets, and we weigh them so we know exactly how much weight is going into the composer per day,” said Winslow.

For every bucket of food waste, students add two buckets of woodchips to the composter, which are also recycled.

“We’re getting our woodchips sourced locally from local tree trimming companies,” said Winslow.

Once all the ingredients are in, the transformation begins.

“After about a month of it churning through the machine it comes out the other end, we have to take it out manually with a pitch fork and it needs another month and half, six months to cure at that point. The curing process all depends on what the outside temperature is,” said Winslow.

The composter is also helping the college keep its status as an Eco U, University.

“Eco U is just another way of saying that we have these large scale efforts towards sustainability and bringing a composter to campus is a great step towards that,” said Guillermo Gomez, president of the Student Government Association.

The student government bought the composter with money from the college’s sustainability fund.

Not only is it helping the environment, but also creating job opportunities for students.

“We’re talking about potentially hiring a sustainability intern to help with the composter, so we’re able to create jobs on campus, we’re able to create new opportunities for environmental groups around campus,” said Gomez.

When ready, the compost will be used as fertilizer for gardens around campus. Students also hope to make it available to the community.

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